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UFC 160 fight card: What’s at stake?

There’s nothing particularly risky for the UFC this evening. Some folks are (rightly) bellyaching the main event is lackluster, but the alternative wouldn’t do much better business. That is, one can make a case Fabricio Werdum would make more sense as a title contender, but would that realistically result in a grander, more profitable event? Not really. And besides, whatever his chances, Bigfoot’s story is something everyone seems to admire. Maybe he’s out of his depth, but the win over Alistair Overeem is not insignificant. One can think of many other title challengers this year who’ve had far less impressive resumes. That said, there are a few outcomes that will be more favorable to the UFC than others. Mark Hunt’s story is sensational, but in terms of the pay-per-view business, a trilogy fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos is a bigger payday for all the parties involved. It also goes without saying that having a Mexican heavyweight champion carries all sorts of benefits in the current climate of MMA that a Brazilian cannot match. Other than that, however, there’s nothing particularly risky about the UFC’s event tonight. It’s a very stacked card, commendably put together with important stakes for the fighters themselves, but not a particularly controversial or unusual event. More Coverage: UFC 160 Results | UFC newsDownload MMA Fighting iPhone App Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva At stake: the heavyweight title. For a title fight, the stakes here are relatively low. They’re not objectively low, but compared to Velasquez’s last fight, this isn’t even close. It goes without saying keeping the title carries huge importance no matter the opponent, but when we take the opponent into consideration, this doesn’t do much for his legacy or career resume. For Silva, this is obviously a much more significant opportunity. Bigfoot is a fighter who entered the game as an intriguing if flawed super heavyweight. He is now a top-ranked heavyweight and the victor in bouts with Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko. He has always been a moderately respected heavyweight, but his greatest achievements came in moments where he surprised observers by taking it to his opposition in ways few thought possible. And that’s precisely where he finds himself tonight. Not many give Bigfoot a chance here and not for unfair reasons. The match-up doesn’t favor him generally and we’ve already seen how this movie ends. There’s not a lot of reason to believe the sequel will look particularly different. Yet, that’s where Silva has historically been a surprise. If he wants to solidify himself as more than a good heavyweight with key wins, he’ll have to surprise everyone again tonight. Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt At stake: being a heavyweight force. Of all the bouts with high stakes, this might be the top. The danger for dos Santos is high and the opportunity for Hunt arguably once in a lifetime. Let’s start with the former champion. His biggest goal is to get back where he was and by that I don’t simply mean champion, but as a dominant force. After the sustained beating he took in his loss to Velasquez, that is anything but an automatic process. A loss like that – a shellacking that went on and on and caused (temporary) disfiguration – can often change a person. Fight sports is filled with competitors who became different people after similar defeats. I don’t necessarily get the sense dos Santos is treading toward that territory, but it is essential he have a successful rebounding effort not merely for his ranking but psyche as well. And there’s Mark Hunt. Let’s be honest and admit it’s now or never for him. He was never supposed to be here in the first place. That he’s arrived at this point is a testament to his ability and desire to persevere. Hunt is nothing if not a survivor. But he desires to be more than feel good story. If he is to ever contend for or earn a UFC title shot, he absolutely must win tonight. It’s true heavyweight is thin enough that a few wins together can do wonders for someone’s title aspirations, but at his age and with his wrestling-deficient skill set, he has no choice but to strike while the iron is hot. His career has already been remarkable, but if he is to elevate into truly historic territory, tonight is a must-win situation. Glover Teixeira vs. James Te Huna At stake: keeping the dream alive. Both fighters will want title shots sooner rather than later. They arrive at this point in different positions, but on a similar linear path. Teixeira is just further ahead. He’s fought better competition and is more widely regarded as a candidate for a title shot, but still has some exposure to benefit from as well as a little more proving to do inside the Octagon. Te Huna, on the other hand, has generated some interest as a developing prospect and shown grit, but needs to prove he can take a no-B.S. step up in competition. If he’s ever going to be considered a title contender, the path starts here. Gra…

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